May 10, 2014— -- The wait was long and wasn't what Michael Sam was expecting, but in the end, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL said he was satisfied.
The St. Louis Rams picked Sam, a defensive lineman out of the University of Missouri, in the seventh round of the draft.
The announcement by NFL Vice President of Game Operations Mike Kensil was greeted with boisterous cheers from the crowd at Radio City Music Hall, where the draft was held.
Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American, last season said he thought he should have gone in the first three rounds, but he didn't say whether he thought he slipped because he came out.
"You know what, who knows? Who knows? Only the people who sit in the war room know," he said. "They saw Michael Sam, day after day they scratched it off the board. That was their loss. But St. Louis kept me on that board. And you know what I feel like I'm a (Jadeveon) Clowney, a first draft pick. I'm proud of where I am now."
Rams coach Jeff Fisher didn't deny that the pick was historic, but indicated it was about talent.
"In a world of diversity we live in, I am honored to be a part of this," Fisher told ESPN.
But speaking to NFL Network immediately after the pick, he said: "I don't have any concern whatsoever. We drafted a good football player."
Sam came out as gay in February. He told his teammates and coaches before the season.
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After Sam had to wait until the seventh round -- the third day of the NFL draft -- to be selected, video on ESPN showed his emotional response to finally being picked.
In the video, taken at his agent's home in San Diego, he is surrounded by his family and friends and repeatedly hugs and kisses his boyfriend.
He tweeted a photo of himself smiling, thanking the Rams and St. Louis, and vowing to "achieve greatness."
When Sam came out in February, he said he recognized that what he was doing was potentially historic, but said he felt he needed to tell his own story.
"I understand how big this is," he told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" when he decided to come out. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."
Sam was named an All-American defensive lineman and The Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season, but at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, he is considered by some too small and too slow to play that position in the NFL.
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ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.